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The employer was under no duty to the employee to change the obvious conditions of the vessel where the intestate was to perform his work, and the defendant was not negligent in continuing the arrangements as they were when the employment began.
The plaintiff’s intestate, Jerome Ford, was employed as mate of the defendant’s steam trawler. He had been connected with the trawler about two months. He went on deck one afternoon to take charge of his watch. As he ascended a flight of four steps leading from the deck to the pilot house, the vessel rolled. The intestate was thrown overboard and drowned. The plaintiff filed a wrongful death action against the defendant employer, alleging that the absence of a guard or rail along the flight of steps was negligence. The plaintiff also contended that the boat that was lowered to pick up the intestate was lashed to the deck, which meant that it had to be cut, and was supplied with only one oar.
Under the circumstances, could the plaintiff recover in the wrongful death action against the employer?
The court found in favor of the defendant employer. The court held that the defendant employer was under no duty to the employee to change the obvious conditions of the vessel where the intestate was to perform his work. Moreover, the defendant employer was not negligent in continuing the arrangements as they were when the employment began. The court concluded that the intestate would not have been rescued even if the boat had been suspended from davits and two oars were provided to propel it.